BlackPast.org is a web-based reference center that is dedicated primarily to the understanding of African-American history and the history of people of African ancestry. In 2011 the American Library Associations Reference and User Services Association included it in its list of the 25 Best Free Reference Websites of the Year. According to Blackpast.org, the website has a global audience of about two million visitors per year from over 100 nations. In 2009, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Brazil, and Germany ranked as the top five countries in visitors to the site after the United States.A 2008 website review described it as easily navigable and well organized but also as containing omissions among some features and as a work in progress. By 2009, the organization was selected by New York Public Library reference librarians as one of the top 25 hybrid print and electronic resources for the year.
BlackPast.org was founded in January 2004 by Dr. Quintard Taylor, the Scott and Dorothy Bullitt Professor of American History at the University of Washington. The initial website, designed by his teaching assistant George Tamblyn, was intended primarily as a research aid for those students and mainly featured short vignettes of significant people, places and events in African-American history. Under the direction of Dr. Taylors daughter Jamila, the website was redesigned the following year to incorporate a new architecture and improved navigation features using Dreamweaver, creating the basis for a resource that would serve a larger research audience. In Spring 2005, Dr. Taylor received an email from a New Zealand researcher who had accessed the site. This was followed by correspondence from Russian students who had viewed the site. This led to a U.S. State Department-sponsored tour of Russian universities by Dr. Taylor.
When it became evident that the site was being used outside of the campus community, additional features were added including a bibliography, timeline, links to related websites,